An update from the President
To the campus community:
Thank you to everyone for all you did to make 2014–15 a terrific year. While the preceding months certainly presented some challenges, we all worked together to educate a great group of students and were rewarded with a beautiful sunny day for Commencement on May 17. We welcomed some very special Honorary Degree recipients this year in Julian Bond, renowned advocate for social justice, and Dr. Sally W. (Penny) Chisholm, Skidmore Class of 1969, environmental scientist extraordinaire. We also enjoyed the wisdom of our own Tisch Family Distinguished Professor of Economics Mehmet Odekon and the President of the Class of 2015, Soraya Attia. Several students also produced a touching farewell video for their classmates to mark the occasion.
I’d like to take this opportunity to update you on three items: The decisions made and topics undertaken by the Board of Trustees at its final board meeting of the year; admissions statistics for the class of 2019; and some of the key items on the agenda for the coming fall.
Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees took the following actions:
- Approved the operating budget with revenues projected at $148.1 million and expenses of $147.5 million for FY '16, which includes an increase of 3.5% in the comprehensive student fee and an internal discount rate of 38.4% to support our financial aid budget.
- Approved a 2.5% general salary adjustment (GSA), as well as funding for a new employee dental benefit that will be instituted as part of open enrollment in January.
- Announced that our endowment had grown to $338.2 million, a new high.
- Accepted the joint recommendation from the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC) and the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP), as previously approved by the faculty and President’s Cabinet, to close the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program (MALS), with the stipulation that the process extend for a reasonable period to allow currently enrolled students to complete their degree requirements.
- Finalized the promotion of five faculty members to Professor: William Lewis, Philosophy and Religion; Daniel Nathan, American Studies; Viviana Rangil, Foreign Languages and Literatures; Mark Rye, Psychology; and James (Rik) Scarce, Sociology. In addition, the Board approved the promotion of John Cosgrove to the rank of Librarian.
- At the Board's February 2015 meeting, Trustees approved granting tenure (as of March 1, 2015) and promotion to Associate Professor (effective June 1, 2015) to five faculty colleagues: Amy Frappier, Geosciences; Heather Hurst, Anthropology; Larry Jorgensen, Philosophy and Religion; Eric Morser, History; and Aiwu Zhao, Management and Business.
- The Board appointed of five new Trustees: Alex Egan '05, Thomas Newkirk, Diana V. Perry '89, Kim Roy Tofalli '80, and Thomas Wilmot, Jr, '99.
- The Board received the Task Force on Divestment's final report, to be reviewed by the Investment Committee this summer in advance of a comprehensive discussion at the Board’s October 2015 meeting.
- The Board approved the creation of a new division, the Office of Communications and Marketing—functions that previously had resided in Advancement.
The Board also heard:
- A report on Creating Our Future: The Campaign for Skidmore, highlighting the fact that the campaign has surpassed the $87 million mark.
- A presentation by Associate Dean of the Faculty Karen Kellogg and Sustainability Coordinator Levi Rogers on the Campus Sustainability Plan.
- A review by the Strategic Planning Committee of several key challenges affecting higher education and Skidmore. These include: Connectivity and Technology, Partnerships, Yield and Financial Aid, Fundraising and Engagement, Expenses and Costs, and Industry Trends.
Admissions results to-date for the fall entering class include the following:
- Expected enrollment totaling 680 students (645 on campus and 35 in London), a number that is slightly over target (by 25 students) but well within our projected range.
- A class demographic that includes 22% domestic students of color, 13% international students from 32 different foreign countries (half of whom are from China), and a gender breakdown of 37% male and 63% female.
Over 8,500 prospective students applied to Skidmore this admissions cycle, the second largest applicant pool in our history. As always, we anticipate a few slight changes between now and September, but the class is largely set and represents a good outcome for the College.
Our fall agenda includes these initiatives:
- The completion of a draft of the next Strategic Plan, which we will review in detail with the community.
- Extended work on our Middle States self-study report in anticipation of an early March reaccreditation team visit.
- Continued conversations around a new general education curriculum.
- The appointment of a Vice President of Communications and Marketing.
- The appointment of a new Chief Diversity Officer to lead our efforts in this critical area.
- A continuation of our work in the area of sexual and gender-based misconduct.
- The expected formal launch of a new Staff Advisory Group, in which I continue to encourage interested staff members to participate.
In the meantime, we have already embarked upon our usual busy summer: hosting a variety of conferences and institutes, student and faculty research, and alumni events including the annual Palamountain Benefit, exhibitions, concerts, and readings. And we will continue apace on our scheduled construction and maintenance efforts that include the renovation of Waring House on North Broadway, the Admissions building, and the lower floors of Jonsson Tower for Health Services, which is temporarily relocated near Wiecking Hall, preparing a new geothermal field in anticipation of the construction of the Center for Integrated Sciences (CIS), and numerous other projects.
I want to close with a commendation for our Dining Services team of Eric DesRosiers, Stephen Field, Ben Niese, and Paul Karlson, who won a gold medal at The Taste of the World Chef Culinary Conference at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst earlier this month, besting teams from Harvard, University of Michigan, and Cornell University, among others. Clearly, the world is learning how fortunate we are to live and eat at Skidmore. Congratulations and bon appétit!
And to all of our colleagues throughout the College, a healthy and happy summer.
Philip A. Glotzbach